The perfect podcast
We’re living in the golden age of podcasts. There are shows to suit every interest and hobby, and the world of arts and culture is no exception. For lovers of museums and galleries, podcasts can provide an exciting insight into historic collections, revolutionary exhibitions, and the work going on behind the scenes. While podcasts are quickly becoming a favourite way to engage audiences, those that stand out from the pack know how to craft intriguing narratives and keep their listeners hooked.
At its most basic level, podcasting can be a fairly inexpensive art form. To get started, one only needs access to a microphone, a computer, and one of many easily available software packages. But to make the jump from a hobby to something more, a podcast needs to find a way to capture its listeners’ imagination and give them something to think about.
Crafting a museum podcast.
Starting a podcast for museum people is possible with even the smallest of budgets. Many popular computers come with recording software preinstalled, and setting up a digital audio interface is a breeze. You’ll want to invest in a couple of decent quality microphones with pop filters, and you may want to look into some soundproofing equipment if you’re recording at home.
It’s the next step that is usually make or break for podcasting projects. Producing audio content that you’ll enjoy making and your listeners will enjoy listening to. While it may be tempting to reach out to professionals for help, as long as you can showcase what makes your podcast unique, you’ll have a better overall experience and save yourself some cash.
Your podcast audio is distributed to your audience via an RSS feed. This will allow your listeners to find your podcast on most popular podcast apps, and will help you reach and grow new audiences. Although RSS feeds can be produced for free, you’ll likely want to look into a podcast hosting service to handle that for you, as well as keeping an archive of your episodes.
A successful museum podcast should be informative, entertaining, and (perhaps most importantly) authentic. Find ways to keep your audience hooked from one episode to the next, to make sure people come back for more.
Planning out your storytelling
Before you start recording, you should have a plan not only for what you want to say in the first episode, but for what you want to say in future episodes. Try to establish themes and narratives, and use your podcast to tell interesting stories that keep your audience engaged. The right guests and hosts can make even the most serious topic into enjoyable, informative, and engaging listening experience. In most cases, your listeners will be people who already love the subject. For a museum podcast, you’ll already be connecting with people who have a passion for art, artefacts, history, and culture. If you’re going behind the scenes, tell the stories of those who make museums great and give some insight into their working lives.
You’ll need to decide early on which format your podcast will take. Two popular formats the world over are pre-scripted shows, and improvised, conversational ones. Both can be very effective, so think about which is right for discussing the subjects and museums you want to talk about.
It’s also important to establish a recognisable logo early on in your podcast journey. This can be a work of art in itself, and should be given care and attention. You’ll want something simple, that stands out from other podcasts so that your listeners, guests, and other museum people will instantly recognise it.
Single subject podcasting
For the most part, successful podcasts tend to stick to a single topic or theme across the entire series. As a museum podcaster, you should focus on museum-specific episodes, and keep an eye on future trends in the culture sector. If your podcast deviates too much from its core theme, you risk disconnecting from your audience and losing listeners.
Podcasts are often helmed by a regular presenter (or “anchor”) who starts with a familiar introduction. Other members of the team, such as co-hosts or producers may join in the conversation, and guests may include experts in their field or people with interesting experiences, skills, or ideas. For a museum podcast you’ll want to find a range of exciting and interesting museum people to talk to, so that each episode unfolds into a lively, informative, and educational conversation that benefits guests, hosts, and the audience. For Arts’ Sake (available at forartsake.co.uk) uses this format to great effect, and always features inspiring guests with insightful stories from the world of museums.
A scripted show may focus more on presenters talking about a subject across multiple episodes, or a new subject each week. Even without a guest, a well-scripted podcast for museum professionals could create engaging audio experiences. Some podcasts have even managed to successfully blend both scripted and conversational formats, creating inspiring works that provide the best of both worlds. Whatever format you choose, you need to find ways to highlight your strengths. A good museum podcast should be able to create just as much intrigue as the museum’s collections.
There’s so much amazing art and culture all over the world, and so many people who are passionate about it. This means there’s already a dedicated audience out there just waiting to discover your museum podcast. As your podcast grows, you may even learn to love museums more than you already do.